Living With Parkinson’s Disease

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About a half million Americans are affected by Parkinson’s disease.

It causes deterioration of nerve cells in the brain making it tough for people to breathe and balance.

But a diagnosis is no reason to give up because it can be a motivation to help others.

Bruce Gilbert is a professional musician who’s giving back by volunteering at the Winship Cancer institute in Atlanta.

Gilbert has Parkinson’s disease.

The neurological disease has taken its toll on, among other things, his ability to work.

“The Parkinson’s stopped me a long time ago in terms of my ability to do anything full time,” he said.

His doctor says Gilbert’s passion for playing is important in keeping the Parkinson’s in check.

“I think that the activity that it brings because it is a form of exercise mental exercise I think it is very good for him,” said Dr. Stewart Factor, Emory University.

“If I have trouble executing a passage of playing or fingering a chord I figure other ways out to do it. I am adaptive,” said Gilbert.

Parkinson’s as a disease seems to also be adaptive.

It can be genetically triggered, it can be environmentally triggered and some people are just more susceptible than others.

Medications are offered based on the patient’s symptoms.

For Gilbert, that means taking medication about six times a day and learning the real meaning of pacing himself and dealing with it.

“I think that as long as I can move I am going to keep moving,” he said.
 

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